Biographies of The President and Members of An Taisce's Board of Directors



Sean McDonagh

Sean was born in Nenagh, County Tipperary in 1944. He went to school in Nenagh, De La Salle College, Waterford and St. Columban’s College Navan.

He went to the Philippines in 1969 and worked on the island of Mindanao.

Between 1972 – 1975 he undertook graduate studies in Anthropology in the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. and Linguistics at Georgetown University also in Washington. On returning to the Philippine he taught Anthropology and Linguistics at the Mindanao State University in Marawi, Philippines. That city has been under siege for the past 3 months and hundreds have been killed.

In 1981, he began working with the T’boli people in Mindanao who are a tribal people. He spent the next 14 years working among them.

He returned to Ireland in 1994 and have been involved in roles since them, especially in the area of Justice, Peace and the Integrity. He was also chair of Greenpeace, Ireland and VOICE. With John Sweeney he wrote the Catholic Bishops' Statement Climate Change in 2009.

He has written many books on theology and ecology. To Care for the Earth (1986), The Greening of the Church (1990), Passion for the Earth (1995, Why are we Deaf to the Cry of the Earth?,(2001), Dying for Water, (2003), Patenting Life? Stop, (2008), The Death of Life: The Horror of Extinction, (2004), Climate Change: the Challenge to Us all (2007), Fukushima (2013), Laudato S’(2016).

He was involved in the preparation of the encyclical of Laudato’ Si: care for our common home.

Board Members

John Pierce | Chair | Joined Board in 2017

John worked in the IT industry for more than 40 years in a career that spanned technical support, project management, sales, consulting and marketing. He became marketing director for Fujitsu Services in Ireland in 2001 and then marketing director EMEA for Fujitsu Services Group before joining the Fujitsu global marketing team in 2009. He retired in February 2017 as Director, Portfolio and References for Fujitsu global marketing.

John was chairman of the Wexford information society outreach initiative, WINC, the Irish Internet Association and the E-Commerce Association of Ireland; a member of the Learning Advisory Group of the first Information Society Commission; part of the group that created the NSAI’s ‘Guide to good practice in Innovation’ and a major contributor to the European (CEN) innovation management standard.

John’s first degree was in botany, followed rapidly by an MSc in pollution ecology, both from the National University of Ireland. He has an MBA from the Open University and was awarded a Master of IT by AIIM. He is a Chartered Engineer and fellow of the Institution of Engineers in Ireland, a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a fellow of the Irish Computer Society. In his spare time, John travels, walks with his two (spoiled) dogs, goes fishing and gets lots of practical experience in wine-tasting.

Judy Osborne | Vice Chair | Joined Board in 2017

Judy Osborne holds a first degree in Politics and Economics, followed by a diploma in Librarianship and a ten year career in Brighton England, Judy moved to Ireland in 1991 and quickly settled in Wicklow with her family. Following involvement in a local campaign for proper waste management Judy went on to chair the Wicklow Planning Alliance dealing with the issues of over zoning and poor development proposal thoughout the boom decade. Joining An Taisce Council was a natural progression and an MSc in Spatial Planning followed in 2005. During the past decade or more Judy has taken various roles in the organization including editing many editions of the Magazine. More recently Judy has taken her turn as Acting chair of the Board.

Garrett Poynton | Treasurer | Joined Board in 2016

Garrett Poynton is a qualified accountant and has a masters degree in risk management. He has held senior roles in several financial services companies and currently works for the Central Bank of Ireland.

Karl Dowling | Secretary | Joined Board in 2017

Charles Stanley Smith (UK) | Education Committee Chair | Joined Board in 2003

Charles Stanley-Smith holds BA in Chemistry from the University of York. He has been at various times a Research Chemist, Hotel Manager, Research Fellow/Lecturer in Computer Science, Y2K Expert and Founder, CEO and CTO of Piercom Ltd, the first Campus Company of The University of Limerick. Member of the Government's Information Society Commission. He is now a retiring IT consultant.

His organisation of a campaign against the Eutrophication of the River Shannon in the early 80’s led to his involvement in An Taisce, where he has been at various times, Council Member, Board Member, Chair and currently Chair of the An Taisce Education Committee and Communications Committee.

Prof John Sweeney | Education Committee Member | Joined Board in 2015

Emeritus Professor John Sweeney has been a member of the Geography Department at Maynooth University since 1978. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Glasgow in 1974 and also his PhD in the Meteorology and Climatology of Air Pollution from there in 1980. Over the intervening 35 years John has taught courses in climatology, biogeography, geomorphology and environmental resource management at Maynooth and a number of universities in North America and Africa. He has published over 100 scientific papers and authored/ edited/co-authored 4 texts on various aspects of climatology and climate change in Ireland. He has served as President of the Irish Meteorological Society, the Geographical Society of Ireland and An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland. He has been Editor, Treasurer, Secretary of several national associations as well as being the Irish representative on a number of European academic bodies. He has been involved in a number of international research projects and has led a number of national funded funded research projects examining various aspects of climate change in Ireland. Professor Sweeney contributed to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is also a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on matters related to climate change science and policy.

Phil Kearney | Climate Committee Chair | Joined Board in 2016

Philip Kearney is a retired psychotherapist. He was at different points co-founder, head of training and joint CEO of the Clanwilliam Institute in Dublin from 1982 - 2007. He has a primary degree in social science (UCD) a masters degree in psychotherapy from the US and an MSc in community health (TCD). He served as chair of the Aarhus Convention's Task Force on Public Participation in Environmental Decision-making from 2010-2014 appointed by the Minister for the Environment. He is a part-time researcher with CiviQ specialising in environmental issues and climate and a member of the management board of Nuclear Transparency Watch, a Brussels-based NGO.

Chris Massi | Fundraising | Joined Board in 2017

Muiris Ó Ceidigh | Governance | Joined Board in 2017

Patricia Oliver | Education Committee Nominee | Joined Board in 2017